Mention a local neighborhood to any New Orleanian, and the feelings immediately resonate the mix of small businesses, old-timers and middle class repatriates in Mid-City, the influx of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants among middle-class African-American families in eastern New Orleans, the multicultural and multi-generational families in Broadmoor, the post-World War II baby boom promise of Lakeview, the musical and Mardi Gras Indian heritage of Central City, and the still-proud, if continually struggling, socioeconomic mix of the Lower Ninth Ward. If people wonder how New Orleans can cling to hope in the face of adversity, we need only show them where we live.
Sadly, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some appear ready to roll up the intricate tapestry of New Orleans' neighborhoods and discard it like a piece of wet carpet -- tossed on the curbside, waiting for FEMA to come haul it away -- so that something "new" can be laid down where it once graced our lives.
In this, the second installment of our three-part series, "The Road Back," Gambit Weekly examines some of the city's most threatened communities through the eyes of individuals who live there -- and who hope to return. Each is but a single thread in that citywide tapestry, but their individual resiliency and sense of place offer a touchstone for all of us as we struggle re-establish our own sense of what it means to be a New Orleanian -- and what it will require going forward.